Hacked by a Hoax

A smile never increases in price or decreases in value.

Someone hacked my Yahoo email account. If you were listed in my address book, you probably received the following email today:

 

Am sorry for not telling you am going to Madrid, I’m writing this with tears in my eyes,I came down here to Madrid, Spain for a short vacation and i was mugged at gun point last night at the park of the hotel where I lodged all cash, credit card and cell were stolen off me

I’ve been to the US embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all, My flight leaves in next few hours from now and am having problems settling the hotel bills.

The hotel manager won’t let me leave until I settle the hotel bills now am freaked out.

 

First of all, I’m not now and never have been in Spain. Nor do I need you to send me any money.

The dummy included my wife in the hoax he spammed everyone with, so I found out pretty quickly. About that time @KristenLambTX called and told me to change my password. I had been unsure what I needed to do, so I was very glad she called.

It took awhile to get through Yahoo’s red tape to get the password changed, and when I did, I discovered I no longer had an address book. It was lost in the process of change. No telling how long it will take me to regather all my contacts and get them all put back into my address book.

This seems to be rampant, as I got a similar letter from another writer earlier in the week, so chances are pretty good it could happen to you, too. Some advice on what to do:

 

1. Never respond to such an outlandish email. This is not how your friends would go about asking if they really did need help.

2. Change your password now to something complicated. Mine had six letters, one of which was capitalized, plus one symbol and one number, but they got through that.

3. Copy your contacts & email addresses into a Word file so you can reconstruct your address book if it does happen.

 

 

I don’t understand people who hack accounts like this. Do they actually get any money from anyone who receives such an email? Do they just do it to prove to themselves they are smart enough to do it? I don’t know. It makes no sense to me.

I truly hope this never happens to you. Meanwhile, if you’re a subscriber or regular reader of this blog, or if we have ever corresponded by email, please send me an email today so I can get you back into my contact list.

 

clip_image001David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since his retirement from insurance a few years ago, he has devoted his time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel himself.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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41 Responses to Hacked by a Hoax

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  2. footer@gmail.com says:

    Hi David — Just wanted to let you know I found this blog via a Google search … This hacker is still at it. My wife’s Yahoo e-mail account was hacked with a similar story just this morning. Her password was only letters. So we don’t know if they guessed her password or found it somehwere else via a compromise. She changed it now but lost all her contacts as well. Time so switch to gmail. 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Tuesday Tech: How to Stay Safe and Secure Online | A Day Without Sushi

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  5. So glad you were already on top of the scam, David. I saw the e-mail and new it was a hoax from the grammar issues and tone. I was afraid to send an e-mail–figured they’d be reading them–so I sent a Tweet to alert you.

    To your question about what do they get, maybe the slim chance that someone will engage and send money? I’ve seen a few news shows showing people who have fallen for this scam, the Nigerian need help freeing up an inheritance account one and others. One show even followed the trail over into the foreign countries to meet the operatives behind it all. It was both brilliant seeing how efficient they worked the schemes and sickening at the same time.

    I know I need to seriously work on my passwords to make them more complex and to not have the same one in multiple places. I’ve recently read there are some online sites that will assist with keeping track of all the different ones we need.

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  6. It’s a sad indictment on the nature of the modern world that hacking happens. I would call it ‘animal’ behaviour, but that gives animals a bad name, because the hacking is done consciously and with ill-will. It would be so much a better world if all people behaved towards each other with genuine care, honesty and so on. And it’s always a good thought to realise that many people do. But the hackers are not, alas, among their number. Will they learn? Probably not.

    I put them in the same league as taggers. A while back the local council put a brand new power pole up outside our house. Within three days it had been tagged. The council have since painted it over but I’m not holding my breath that this will be a permanent fix.

    Apropos passwords – some people apparently advise using weird non-alpha characters like * # or % in them. As I understand it the key thing isn’t so much that as the quantity of characters used – which makes it harder for a brute-force crack – and making sure the password isn’t something obvious, like a known word (‘antidisestablishmentarianism’). I’m told it’s especially important not to use ‘password’ or ‘1234567’, but apparently people do!

    Matthew Wright
    http://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com
    http://www.matthewwright.net

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  7. Michelle D Keyes says:

    I was almost willing to suspend my belief system UNTIL the hacker said the hotel bill was $2400. I was like, “seriously are you at the Ritz Carlton?!” rofl

    (PS: No I never would have sent money even if I had that much to spare… I just LOVE stringing these idiots along and then crushing them when they think they are going to get a payday)

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  8. Hi David. Yeah, it’s sad that some people get kicks out of causing problems for others. You hear such comments as “well, if they’re stupid enough to use an easy password,” when the stupidity is with the people who get a buzz out of the power while hiding behind the anonymity the internet provides.

    Hope you’ve got everything sorted out.

    Cheers

    Like

  9. Jess Witkins says:

    Glad I contacted you in a separate email. I figured it was a hoax, but I also wanted to know you’re ok. Glad you reported it! Hope that’s the last of it!

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  10. Thanks, Amber. Apparently they CAN get past symbols, too. Mine had six letters, a symbol and a number. Go figure.

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  11. I got that e-mail and came straight here. My first thought was that you wouldn’t be stupid enough to not pay your hotel bill in advance and my next thought was that you certainly wouldn’t e-mail anyone about it. You would contact the authorities shut down everything then call a family member for help. People can be so crazy for it’s a little insane. I changed my password just in case 🙂

    Like

  12. Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos says:

    What a pain. Are you still using the same email address?

    Like

  13. hawleywood40 says:

    Was just getting ready to email you to see if you knew that message was out there. The same thing happened to a co-worker of mine a few years back and a very similar message went out (although I think it said he was in Italy). Worst part was, he was an international student advisor and traveled a LOT for work, and this hoax was sort of new, so a lot of people really were worried about him!

    Like

  14. Barb Estinson says:

    David, didn’t you get the $6000 I sent you? Barb

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  15. Marcia says:

    I’ll be changing my password, for sure! So sorry this happened to you David. I hope you don’t get hit like again!

    Like

  16. So sorry you got hacked – that’s never any fun!! Especially when you lose something as important as your address book…blech. Hope it all gets sorted quickly!

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  17. susielindau says:

    It is a good reminder to change my email address again…I knew in the first few words shown that you had been hacked. Good thing Gmail lets you see the beginning of sentences….

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  18. Good morning David and I can so relate! My yahoo mail has been hacked into not once but twice in the last 3 weeks! And mine was sending out those not so nice spam links.My problem; When I created my yahoo account about 10 years ago, my internet provider was sbcglobal.net and then att bought them out and I no longer have them, I have time warner cable now and I can’t get in to change my password. My yahoo password will let me log in to my emails and certain other parts of my account, but it won’t let me use that password to change my password! So I had to print up the list of all my email contacts and then delete everyone from my address book, so the hackers have no one to send to. I also had to open a new email elsewhere and will eventually delete my yahoo account. A friend said it might be tied to the new app changes on fb, and I have to agree.
    Good luck. I hope everything works out the way it should.

    Like

  19. I responded to you and they wrote back! I knew it wasn’t you! No emoticons! Now I’m worried that I responded. *biting nails* Hope you get everything sorted out.

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  20. I suspected right away it was a hoax. It didn’t sound like you and it was, overall, very suspicious. I read the email but didn’t respond. My Yahoo password is really complicated and long but that won’t stop an experienced hacker from getting thru it. I will change it now.
    Glad you are okay, David.

    Like

  21. Charlie says:

    Hi, I wandered in from a tweet. It amazes me that individuals bright enough to crack passwords for this kind of crime won’t put their time securing real employment. Is there really that much money in these things?

    I’m glad things worked out for you.

    Like

  22. Barb Estinson says:

    Unfortunately, I opened the hacked email before I found your post. I would be so mad if that happened to me. Thanks for the warning, though I didn’t find it soon enough to avoid opening it … and I will take your advice on the steps. Hope you have no more problems. Barb

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  23. I am so glad to hear this was a hoax. I read the email and personally thought the “voice” didn’t sound like the David I know, but the title and body still got my attention…thus the reason for the Tweet to check on my friend.

    My boyfriend is an IT geek and he’s always said to make my passwords more than 10 characters (and as difficult as can be). What a pain, David – but I’m just glad you aren’t stuck in Madrid!!

    Like

  24. Jeez! What the hell is wrong with people? I don’t get it either… hacking an email account is ridiculous.
    I think people that do stuff like this (or that blue screen thing back in AOL chat room days) do it just to know they can.

    Sorry you had to deal with this garbage!

    Darlene

    Like

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